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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who needs a grass lawn?

    I have blogged before about my desire to reduce the areas of grass in my lawn area.  My distaste of grass comes from my feeling that it is boring and an unnatural ground cover.  Have you ever seen grass growing in a forest?  Somehow our suburban communities have developed with an idealized image of a lush, green lawn as a symbol of upward mobility.  I have looked to what grows in the wild that has color and variety to replace the grass in my yard.  Even in Columbia with its conformist guidelines you don't have to have grass as a yard.  Of course an over grown unattractive yard of weeds might be an issue with your neighbors but a well maintained natural environment can be an attractive enhancement to your property.
    In this regard I recently talked with Tom Bowman, an arborist with the Davey Tree Expert Company, about how to increase your curb appeal with plantings in your yard.  Tom stressed that variety and color are two of the most important elements to consider if you want to make an attractive natural environment in your yard.  He recommended a mixture of annuals and perennials.  He also stressed that some annuals will also have the ability to reseed your garden for the next season.  Zinnias, marigolds and snap dragons fall into this category and are pictured below.

One aspect of a garden to consider is the placement of bushes and trees in a way that won't distract from the flowering parts of your garden.  Shorter, well pruned bushes such as azaleas and rhododendrons can accent other parts of a garden, particularly as border plantings.  Another important aspect to consider is to plan for plantings that add color at different seasons.  Summer blooming flowers like 

Black Eyed Susans
Echinacea add color as Spring flowers die

   Winter and colder weather doesn't mean that you have to lose all our the color in your yard.  Below are some recommended choices.



Winter cabbage

Redstem Dogwood

Birch trees

 I have blogged frequently about the efforts we can all make in our community to protect the Chesapeake watershed.  On October 26th there will be a simple way to participate in this effort.  Think about joining in this effort.  The following info was sent from the Howard County Watershed Stewards Academy :

"Come Plant The Grove!
When: Saturday, October 26th
Where: Below Wilde Lake Dam
Time: 10:00 AM ~ 12:00 PM
Rain or Shine

This planting initiative is designed to be a celebration of diverse groups and people coming together to ultimately promote cleaner waters flowing to the Chesapeake Bay. We look forward to sharing the joy of planting trees together: plant alone or with your family, friends, classmates or community group.

The Grove will serve as a riparian buffer on a ½ acre site below Wilde Lake dam. Six tree varieties will be planted in this environmentally sensitive location to preserve and prevent further land and stream bank erosion, act as a tree canopy and absorb stormwater and pollutants. The Grove is a Howard County Watershed Stewards Academy project done in conjunction with Columbia Association Watershed Management. Educational materials, snacks and tree helpers are sponsored by British American Auto Care and private donations .

Recommended registration and more information is at

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